Dad claimed toothache painkillers caused him to black out

March 28th, 2023 7:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A DUNMANWAY man who drove into a Clonakilty housing estate on New Year’s Eve almost knocking down a mum and her son said he ‘blacked out’ after taking strong painkillers for a toothache.

Patrick Hayden (59) of Nedineagh, Dunmanway pleaded guilty at Clonakilty District Court to dangerous driving as well as failing to remain at the scene of an accident, failing to report said accident and failing to give gardaí information.

Sgt Paul Kelly told the court that at 7.20pm on December 31st 2021, a woman contacted gardaí to report an incident of dangerous driving in the Wayside estate in Clonakilty.

‘When gardaí arrived they saw a grey Audi Q7 on the green area in the estate,’ said Sgt Kelly. ‘A number of people were standing nearby. The left front wheel of the vehicle was damaged and there were tyre marks on the road.’

The woman who rang gardaí said she was outside her house with her son when the grey Audi drove into the estate, swerved suddenly to the right, mounting a footpath before going up on the grass embankment.

‘It then mounted the opposite footpath. She thought she and her son would be knocked down. It narrowly avoided onlookers before it mounted another footpath and drove onto the green.’

The court heard that the defendant tried to drive off but couldn’t as the front wheel was buckled. He got out of the vehicle and left the scene when he was told that gardaí had been called, but did ask if everyone was ok before he left.

‘The woman and her son told him to stay, but he ran off in the direction of Fernhill Road.’

Mr Hayden made a statement to gardaí in Dunmanway on January 7th 2022 stating that he had no recollection of the incident as he was on strong painkillers for a toothache at the time.

The court herd that the defendant has eight previous convictions, including two for dangerous driving.

Mr Hayden told Judge James McNulty that he suffered a toothache and took some painkillers for it and later took some extra strong painkillers that he had from a previous injury.

He said he drove into Clonakilty and popped into a friend’s house, and then went to a bar where he had one pint of Heineken before heading home.

‘I think I blacked out when I was driving home until someone was talking to me on the green asking me what happened. I walked for about 10 minutes and then I think I blacked out again,’ said Mr Hayden. ‘I didn’t know where I was and I managed to ring a friend.’

Solicitor Conrad Murphy said his client, who is a dad of four, works part-time as a carpenter and lives in a rural area. He handed into court a letter from a dentist confirming his client’s tooth was extracted days later on January 4th. 

Judge McNulty said Mr Hayden has a ‘selective recollection of events’ and that it was ‘remarkable’ that his one memory is that of having one pint of Heineken.

‘That one detail betrays him and the court doesn’t accept his explanation. What occurred here was appalling in a quiet residential area on New Year’s Eve,’ said Judge McNulty.

‘An Audi Q7 is as big as it gets. It may not be a monstrosity but it is a monster.’

He sentenced him to three months in prison for dangerous driving and three months for failing to remain at the scene, failing to report the incident and failing to give information to the gardaí, with those sentences to run concurrently. 

Mr Hayden was also disqualified for three years.

The judge also directed him to enter a probation bond for one year on the charge of failing to give information, while the defendant lodged an appeal in his own bond of €500.

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